French VBCI saved lives of soldiers from spectacular suicide car bomb in Mali

On Sunday 1st July, four soldiers inside the hit VBCI operated by the 2nd Régiment Etranger d’Infanterie (2 REI) inside the GTIA (Groupement Tactique InterArmes) “Altor” (armed by the 2e Régiment Etranger de Parachutistes, 2 REP)) were wounded but no one was killed, demonstrating the high protection level offered by the ICV.

French VBCI saved lives of soldiers from spectacular suicide car bomb in Mali
Two French VBCIs were hit by the suicide bomb car in Bourem, Mali, one more severly (Picture source: Twitter Syria Frontline)

French soldiers of the 2nd Régiment Etranger d’Infanterie (2 REI) on patrol in troubled northern Mali were targeted in a bombing on Sunday, in which four civilians were killed and over 20 people injured, Malian authorities said. The French army said there were no deaths among the troops whose armored vehicles – VBCI’s (Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie) – were attacked near the town of Bourem in the Gao region on Sunday. The French patrol was deliberately targeted by a suicide car bomb. A VBCI blocked the way and the car blew up. Apparently, this VBCI was hit rather from the back and had its rear axle blown up. The other VBCI has several flat tires but seems otherwise undamaged. This will be specified with later reports.

In a separate incident also on Sunday, a vehicle of the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA), an armed group of former Touareg rebels which often operates alongside French and Malian forces in Mali’s north, also hit a landmine in Talataye village in the Gao region. That blast killed four people and injured three, the group said in a statement.

On Friday 29, a suicide bombing had already hit the Mali headquarters of the five-nation force known as G5 Sahel, adding to concerns about how it can tackle the jihadist groups roaming the region. The Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims, the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel, claimed Friday’s bombing in a telephone call to the Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar.

The attacks, coming in the wake of two others on Friday and Saturday, highlighted the fragile security situation in the West African nation as it prepares to go to the polls on July 29. Sunday’s attacks occurred as an African Union summit opened in neighboring Mauritania, with security crises on the continent, including unrest in the vast Sahel region, high on the agenda.